Hawks defeat Bobcats 103-94

The return of “Big Al” Jefferson for the Charlotte Bobcats fired up a pretty “big Al” on the other end of the court Monday night as well. Hawks center Al Horford poured in 13 of his 24 points during a key third quarter stretch to help hold off the Bobcats and their new free agent acquisition Al Jefferson, 103-94.

Jefferson, back after five games out with an ankle injury for Charlotte, wasn’t in game shape to keep up with Horford, who only got better as the game went on. Horford finished three points shy of his season-high and made two free throws with 2:33 to help hold off a late Bobcats rally.

The Hawks walked off with their first winning streak of the season, after Saturday’s win over the Magic, and a ninth straight win over the Bobcats.

Kyle Korver extended a streak of his own, needing only three and a half minutes in the first quarter to extend his 3-point streak to 80 games on his first attempt from behind the arc. He now trails NBA record holder Dana Barros (’94-’96) by nine games. He moved past Michael Adams for sole possession of the second-longest streak of games with a made 3-pointer in NBA history.

The Bobcats cut the Hawks lead to six points with 5:02 to go on a turnaround Jefferson jumper and nice pass to a cutting Gerald Henderson. But the Hawks blocked a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist shot and forcing him into a turnover as they shut out the dynamic Bobcat for the second half after he scored 16 in the first half.

Josh McRoberts 3-pointer cut the Hawks lead to 5 points with 1:44 left but Jeff Teague hit a floater to restore some order and the crowd began to make its way to the exits at Time Warner Cable Arena.

Horford was one of four Hawks in double-figures scoring and Teague finished with 14 points and 12 assists.

After a relatively quiet first half by both Als, Horford watched Jefferson score three times in four trips down the floor to open the second half. Horford responded by dropping in eight points of a 16-2 run by the Hawks to regain momentum in a game that had been largely dictated by the Bobcats.

Charlotte coach Steve Clifford, 52, returned to the bench just three days after undergoing a procedure to place two stents in his heart after suffering chest pains at a Charlotte area restaurant Thursday night. Buoyed by his return, and that of Jefferson, the Bobcats opened up an 8-point lead in the first quarter and led 54-46 at halftime.

But they couldn’t sustain the momentum as the Hawks picked up their defensive intensity to open the second half.

Between Horford and a couple of nifty deliveries from Teague (who had 12 assists), Hawks led by 10 at the end of the third quarter. Cartier Martin made three 3-pointers in the second half for the Hawks on his way to 16 points.

Teague picked up two fouls in the first 89 seconds of the game. His backup, rookie Dennis Schroder, picked up his second foul just over two minutes later. Shelvin Mack responded with a pair of 3-pointers in three possessions. He paced the Hawks with six points and two assists to keep them within 29-26 of the Bobcats in the first quarter.

As a team, the Hawks started out cool from 3-point range, shooting only 4-for-15 from behind the arc in the first half. Just as Mike Budenholzer had been concerned about heading into the game, the Bobcats got to the free throw line twice as often as the Hawks, shooting 17 free throws to the Hawks’ nine.

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